In the late 19th and early 20th century, tuberculosis hospitals became common in the United States. Over 1.3 Million hospitals were constructed during this period. In the early 1900s, Colorado’s sunny days and dry evenings attracted many people (commonly called "lungers") suffering from tuberculosis. Wealthier people chose to recuperate in exclusive tuberculosis resorts, in Colorado Springs. While others used their savings to make the journey to Arizona or New Mexico. Some formed tuberculosis camps in the desert. They were formed by pitching tents and building simple cabins. During the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic, cities in Colorado advertised the state as the premier place for treatment of TB. Many tuberculosis hospitals in the state were modeled after European away-from-city resorts of the time, boasting courtyards and individual rooms. Each tuberculosis hospitals was equipped to take care of about 120 people
The first public tuberculosis hospitals in the was in the Pacific Northwest opened; in Milwaukie Heights, Oregon in 1905. Followed soon after by the first state-owned TB hospital in Salem, Oregon, in 1910. Oregon was the first state on the West Coast to set forth legislation stating that the state was to supply suitable housing for people with TB who are not able to receive suitable care at home. The West Coast became the most popular spot for TB Hospitals
The greatest area for tuberculosis hospitals was in Colorado Springs, CO with over 13 resort-style facilities in the city. By 1920, Colorado Springs had 9,000 people who had come for treatment of tuberculosis. Too many people came to the West, in-fact not enough housing was available for them all. By 1910, more tent cities began to pop up in Arizona and New Mexico; many described as a place of squalor and shunned by most citizens. Most of the TB infected slept in the open desert with no housing. The area adjacent to what was then central Phoenix, called Sunnyslope, was home to another large tuberculosis encampment, with its residents only living in tents pitched along the hillside of the mountains north of Phoenix. Several tuberculosis hospitals opened in southern California in the early party of the 20th century due to the dry, warm climate.
The first tuberculosis hospital for blacks was ironically in the segregated South. It was called the “Piedmont Sanatorium” in Burkeville, Virginia. Although locally it was referred to it as the “pigeon sanatorium” the most famous non-segregated tuberculosis hospitals is the Waverly Hills Sanatorium, a Louisville, Kentucky, tuberculosis sanatorium, from 1911. It is a mecca for curiosity seekers who believe it is haunted. Because of its dry climate, Colorado Springs was home to the most sanatoria and tuberculosis hospitals. A. G. Holley Hospital in Lantana, Florida, was the last remaining freestanding tuberculosis sanatorium in the United States, fortunately, it closed on July 2, 2012.
The closures were and are welcomed by the American people. It closes a horrific chapter in our history. The decline of tuberculosis started in 1943, when Albert Schatz, a graduate student at Rutgers University, discovered an antibiotic and the cure for TB, tuberculosis hospitals began to close rapidly. As in the case of the Paimio Sanatorium, many were transformed into general hospitals, jails, or schools. However, over 1 million tuberculosis hospitals were simply abandoned. Half of these were demolished by 1949. By the 1950s, tuberculosis was not a large public health threat; it was controlled by medicine rather than extended rest. Most tuberculosis hospitals were demolished years before.
Some, however, have been adapted for new medical uses. The Tambaram Sanatorium in south Indiana is now a hospital for AIDS patients. The state hospital in tuberculosis hospitals, Mississippi, is now a regional center for programs for treatment and occupational therapy associated with intellectual disability.
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